Blair students head to Kazakhstan for Physics Olympiad -- Gazette.Net


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Two students from Montgomery Blair High School in Silver Spring were selected for the 2014 U.S. physics team competing in the International Physics Olympiad in Kazakhstan next week.

Alexander Bourzutschky, 18, of Potomac and Michael Winer, 17, of Rockville will travel to Astana, Kazakhstan, to compete from July 13 to 21. There are five members on the traveling team: two are from California, and one is from Indiana.

More than 400 students from 92 nations are expected to compete.

The International Physics Olympiad, a competition featuring high school students from all over the world, was started in 1986 by the American Association of Physics Teachers, according to a news release. Today, other institutions have joined to support the program, which promotes academic excellence.

“I am feeling happy about all of it and I am very glad I made the team. I think it will be a great experience,” Winer said.

Winer, from the class of 2015, and Bourzutschky, from the class of 2014, are co-captains of the Montgomery Blair physics team. At the competition, teams will solve problems on thermodynamics and molecular physics, oscillations and waves, electric charge and electric field, and mechanics of rigid bodies, among other topics.

Students attended a training camp at the University of Maryland and George Washington University to compete for a chance to represent the U.S. in the Olympiad. They competed in a series of labs, lectures and exams.

“I was very surprised but I guess we were pretty good,” Winer said.

The American Association of Physics Teachers recruits, selects and trains the students. The traveling team selection is made after a nine-day training camp where the students solve problems and take daily exams. At the end of the camp, the organization selects five students and an alternate. In July, the team attended a mini-camp of intense laboratory work at the University of Maryland, College Park, campus before traveling to Astana, according to the news release.

Bourzutschky had competed in the event in 2013 and ranked in the top 45. This year, he said, he didn’t expect to make the team.

“When I was chosen, it was one of those unexpected great moments,” Bourzutschky said.

According to the Montgomery Blair High School magnet program website, 12 Blair students were named as semifinalists to the 2014 U.S. Physics team.

“It is one of those amazing feelings where you get this awesome experience to be selected for the traveling team and your closest friend at camp does, as well,” Bourzutschky said, referring to his friendship with Winer.

abarros@gazette.net